The Samurai ride to Huntington’s rescue: Japan ponders its global and regional roles

David Leheny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In November 2004, members of Japan’s Second Middle Eastern Cultural Exchange and Dialogue Mission, headed by leading area specialist Yamauchi Masayuki, 1 made a pitch for Tokyo’s global influence based in part on an expectation, referencing Samuel Huntington, that its distinctiveness might allow it to sidestep the civilizational battles then raging in the Middle East. The mission released its report while the Koizumi cabinet, in the face of increasing violence in Baghdad and deep misgivings among Japanese voters, famously held its unpopular line on supporting the American mission in Iraq. The report explained the suicide bombings as the results of the “clash of civilizations” (MOFA 2004: 9), but argued that Japan would have a clear role in allowing the region to move beyond it. In this report, “soft power” (rendered as “sofuto pawa”) is defined as “cultural power, " and the authors stipulate that it should flow from Japan’s modernizing experience, making it appealing both to the Middle East and to other developing nations: Like last year, people showed great interest in Japan’s experience as a non-Western nation that had rapidly modernized, but maintained its own traditional culture while doing so. It is a longstanding desire of lesser developed countries to maintain their cultural identities even in the midst of the process of globalization.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivilizations in World Politics
Subtitle of host publicationPlural and Pluralist Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781135278069
ISBN (Print)9780415777100
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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